#SOL16 Petrified at Hershey Park

I am late to the party today. I normally write my Slice by late Monday evening, or Tuesday morning at the very latest. I thought this might be the week I have to wave the white flag and skip a Slice. October has been filled with memorable, fabulous moments and events- but I'm feeling behind in everything and am trying to "dig out" as a colleague of mine used to always say when asked how she was doing. 

But, here it is, almost 9pm on Tuesday evening, and I'm feeling the pull to write a Slice. I need to work on the first draft of a personal narrative to use as a mentor for my third graders. I've promised them the story of how I lost Alex at Hershey Park this summer. So, here it is- seems I can't keep away from Slicing after all. 

Tentative Title: Petrified at Hershey Park

"Do you have him?"
My friend Evan was walking quickly towards me, a note of panic in his voice. I felt my stomach drop. 

"No, he's on the Lazy River. Mike was going to get him, " I told Evan, who had his own little girls along with him. My daughter, Megan, was in her stroller. It was a scorching hot day at Hershey Park and we had just been floating in the Lazy River- my husband, Mike, my son Alex and daughter Megan and our friends Evan, Sharyn, and their 2 daughters. Well, maybe not floating- more like Megan hanging onto my neck for dear life, nearly choking me, as I tried to navigate a giant tube without being able to see where I was going. First chance I got, Megan and I exited the Lazy River, and I gave instructions to my husband, Mike, to catch up to Alex who had hopped in a tube and started down the river ahead of us. 

"He's not there. We looked everywhere," Evan said, now looking quite panicked. Sharyn, his wife, and one of my best friends came then. 

"We didn't see him in the Lazy River. Mike is looking," she explained, and I am now fully, completely terrified.

My Alex. My almost six year old who just learned to swim this summer. My happy, tan-summer-kissed boy, who just the night before gave his sister the last piece of candy. My heart-of-gold boy. Where could he be? Did he leave the river without us? Is he walking around the park, lost? Did someone take him? Oh my God- what if someone took him? They have to shut down the park.

"We need to find security." Did I say that? I don't know. But in a minute, a security guard is standing before me and I am willing myself to say the words that my son, my world, is somehow lost and we need to find him NOW. We need to shut down the park. Can you close all the exits? 

The security guard is not very concerned. He doesn't think we can shut down the exits. He wants to know what Alex looks like and I just want to cry describing my son. What if I never see him again? How will I breathe, walk, leave this park? 

Poor Megan- I hand her to Sharyn. I need to go and find Alex. I walk/run to the Lazy River and as I approach, I see my husband and then Alex, ALEX!, still in a tube. Apparently, he was on the river the whole time, had been so happy and relaxed floating, he didn't realize we all left. Mike stood on the bridge and watched and spotted him. 100% fine. 

The tears came then. For the petrified feeling that my worst fear had come true and then the rush of gratitude that there was Alex before me, still here, still safe, still mine to hug and hold. It was the worst five minutes of my life, thinking Alex was somehow lost, might never be found. I shake still thinking about it. Writing this, tears still come to my eyes, remembering how scared I was, then how grateful I felt that my son was safe and sound. 

In a minute, your life can change forever. I'm grateful mine didn't. 


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